Howard Pfeifer wanted to be on deck, where the action was. At age 19 during WW II, Howard left Pittsburgh PA to serve as a Quartermaster with the United States Merchant Marine Service. Sailing around the world in vulnerable convoys, he brought vital supplies, ammunition, and troops to the war fronts--including a trip to Iraq that resupplied the Soviet Red Army.
Often overlooked by veteran memorials, the United Merchant Marine Service has been involved in every major war since the Revolution. During WW II, the Merchant Marines suffered the hightest rate of casualties of any service; 1 out of every 24 mariners never made it home.
Recorded on January 27, 2012 by the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. Music: "The View Outside My Window," by Brandyn Anderson (http://soundcloud.com/brandynanderson/).